Sunday, April 26, 2009

sorting it out

It has been a rough week, but I can't complain. I enjoyed most of it. I put in close to 70 hours this week trying to rush out a last minute proposal, and I feel good about the product. On Thursday I didn't go home from work until after the birds began chirping. It reminded me of the days in architecture school.

I was bone tired Friday night and barely lasted for the Hong Kong v New Zealand Universities match. HK lost, as I expected they would, but I was impressed by an angry, little center (probably not that little, actually) who tried so hard to motivate the HK team and make a breakthrough.

Dinner was terrible; SB and I went to get some grub with another couple and ended up choking down some sub-par food along Temple Street. The other couple wisely chose not to eat while I was so hungry that I had no choice. The conversation more than made up for the meal, and had SB chuckling for another day. We were having a frank discussion on dating and SB was inadvertently doing much to support my assertion that I don't have to worry about losing him to another woman. It has nothing to do with his attractiveness, and I think he is quite handsome and sexy. Instead, he is such a guy, to the point that his is practically a caricature of himself, that most somewhat feminine women would flee after a few minutes. He subscribes to hunting magazines; he plays ice hockey, lacrosse, rugby, Gaelic ball, about any sport that isn't basketball or soccer; he is very restless and cannot sit still; and he is Captain Oblivious.

Any women who makes a move on him will soon come to realize that she might as well pack away the nice dresses, heeled shoes, and fancy perfume because they won't last very long in the woods. And kiss goodbye to the hair products and make-up because if you do manage to convince him to take you somewhere, he will spend up until the very last minute doing something else and you will only have five minutes to change into something nice. I do not enjoy seeing women hit on him but I don't really have grave concern that I need to worry about him. He knows who cooks his dinner and rubs his back.

I may be the only woman for him. Or at least one of only a few who won't have a breakdown at some point into the relationship. There are several times per week that I point to my forehead and remind him that he is one action away from causing wrinkles. But then he looks so cute when he laughs at me that I cannot stay mad.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sleeping through

I have some strange bedroom behavior. No, I'm not talking about that stuff. That will stay under cover, thank you very much.

What I'm referring to is my sleep behavior. I have two very distinct sleep patterns, depending on how tired I am and how much stress I have encountered. When I am moderately tired and with lower stress (most nights) I can go to sleep and wake up in the same position. When I lived alone, I could make my bed in under a minute because all it involved was straightening the top sheet and duvet, and fluffing the pillow where I had left my impression. I was such a still sleeper that a former roommate once felt compelled to check to see if I was breathing. I woke up with her leaning over me, trying to ascertain that there was a pulse. When I am under loads of stress and haven't slept well, I have very animated sleep. I talk, move about, sometimes even sleepwalk.

SB and I have been together for several years. Several loooong years of obliviousness, or is that oblivion? Anyway, a few days ago when we woke up he had a story for me. He got up in the middle of the night to "drop the Browns off at the Superbowl" and heard me say something to him as walked out of the bedroom. Then when he came back, we had a bit of small talk. At some point into the conversation I turned to him and asked, "where are we?" That is when he figured out that I was not really awake. Just to make sure, he asked me, "you're not really awake, are you?" Way to go, Captain Obvious.

So now he has finally figured out that I sleepwalk and hold conversations in my sleep. I wondered if I really had never done this before in our relationship, when I recalled an incident that happened around the time I moved to Hong Kong. We were going to bed and I asked him a question about something mundane. His reaction was strange. He told me that he didn't like to have "big conversations" when he was about to go to sleep. I was confused at what he meant by this. Was picking up the laundry more complicated than it seemed? Now I wonder if he had been the recipient of a "big conversation" with me when I was unconscious. I have been told by the roommates and others who have witnessed by sleepwalking that I am at first seemingly normal, but within a few minutes it becomes clear that I am incoherent. Except if you are SB, my freaking life partner, who is supposed to know me very well by now. But he thinks all women are crazy.

He also said that he was upset that he missed his chance to get in a few subliminal messages. He has since told me that he wishes he had responded to my question about where we were with "in a boxcar, free falling off the side of a cliff." Last night he checked up on me but I was in my deep sleep, completely silent and unmoving. He even threw his leg over me for good measure but I didn't budge. Eventually I woke up while he was asleep and rolled him off me. Then I went back to my coma.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Raised Pancakes (Dutch Babies)

A few years ago while pulling one of my frequent all-nighters at the architecture studio I came out of my angsty haze to watch a cooking show on the Food Network. At 3 in the morning the show's topic, about a visit to a beautiful bed and breakfast, caught all of my attention. My eyes were glued to the television as the owner of The Willows cooked an amazing looking raised apple pancake on a skillet in the oven, oblivious to the fact that I was leaning on my tube of Zap-a-Gap and had instantly become bonded to the piece of chipboard under my elbow.

Later, as I was trimming my chipboard appendage into a small disc, I made a mental note to find this recipe. I was going to finally cook the pancakes this weekend but our refrigerator went out and I didn't want to buy any more groceries. I decided to make do with what I had and make a raised pancake without all the fancy parts that made the Willows recipe so uniquely delicious. However, I will make the apple-cinnamon-nutmeg-cider-walnut version one day soon.

So instead of the fancy stuff, here are my simple Dutch Babies:

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1/2 Cup flour
1/4 Cup Cream
1/4 Cup Milk

Preheat the oven to 218 Celsius (425 F). Melt the butter into a large (12 inch) skillet over low heat.

Whisk the eggs, flour, cream, and milk. Pour the batter into the melted butter on the skillet.

Place the skillet into the oven for about 20-25 minutes. The pancakes will puff up on the sides like a hollow soufflé and then turn a beautiful light golden color. Serve immediately.

You can put fruit, lemon juice and powdered sugar, molasses, etc. onto the fluffy cakes but SB and I prefer maple syrup (not the fake stuff) to everything else. SB said it tasted like a popover, whatever that is. I guess I will be making popovers next.

As you can see, SB had to choke it down. And yes, that is our christmas tree top still going strong! It is just starting to look dry.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

feeding frenzy

A year ago SB and I were discussing his lack of adventure in eating. He defended himself, explaining to me that during his last stay in Hong Kong, over ten years ago, he had eaten everything placed upon his plate with gusto. He ate chicken feet even though the bones looked much too eerily similar to the bones on his own hand. He ate a hairy crab and developed red, leopard like spots all over his body for a week that made everyone at work avoid him. He even ate some prehistoric looking sea crustacean that he had never seen before and thought that for all he knew, it may have been the last of its species. At the time I laughed but now the thought of him eating the last survivor from a time that preceded humans does not seem so far fetched.

Yesterday in the news I read about how some Filipino fisherman caught a strange looking, very large fish. Despite pleas from a wildlife officer, the men decided to eat the fish. It turned out to be a Megamouth shark. It has been tagged as "Megamouth 41," in reference to the fact that it is only the 41st Megamouth ever seen by humans since 1976.

I hope it was the best meal they ever ate.

Then I wondered to myself, didn't I read something similar to this last week? Oh yes, I did. Last week in the paper I read about how an unfamiliar bird was recently caught, sold for twenty cents, and promptly eaten. It was the Worcester’s Buttonquail, previously thought to be extinct.

I hope it was the best meal they ever ate.

It turned out that the "prehistoric creature" SB ate was a fairly common mantis prawn. At least he won't be on my shame list...this time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

elbow and flow

I am still shocked and sometimes amused by the throngs of perfectly civilized looking individuals who unabashedly hurl themselves toward the exits at the Happy Valley tram terminal. It would seem as if the back of the tram was on fire from the surge toward the exit. Old ladies stick out their elbows, helpers run over your feet with their carts, and small clusters of people pretend not to see others trying to exit from the stairs so that they don't have to wait their turn.

I sit back and watch the melee. I am not interested in some complete stranger pushing his/her body into parts of my backside that aren't usually touched by civilized individuals. I know that in less than a couple of minutes I will be passing most of this mass of bodies on the sidewalk where they will be plodding along at the pace of the slowest of tree sloths. I will think to myself as I pass, "you people are ridiculous!"

There has to be some middle ground between emergency and no sense of urgency.

Monday, April 6, 2009

light at the end

Yesterday's hike turned out to be a mostly miserable affair. Saturday seemed cool enough so SB and I loaded up on water and set off from Happy Valley to the Parkview, and then across Mount Butler to Quarry Bay. From there we went to Big Wave Bay.

About five minutes into the first impressive hill, I began to feel a trickle of sweat. By Mount Butler I was soaking wet and quite unhappy, making sure to squeak indignantly at SB as if it was his fault that I was so hot. I should have worn my dry-weave shirt but I somehow did not notice the humidity and wore a very, very lightweight cotton shirt. The shirt started out to be at waist length but by the end of the hike it was down to my hips and looking similarly to how I felt.

By Quarry Bay I had consumed all of my water and was trying to take SB's. I practically threw myself into the surf of Big Wave when we dragged our sorry selves over the last set of hills.

But here is where my story takes an amazing turn for the better:

As the sun was setting, I noticed some sort of blue glow under SB in the waves. At first I thought that the board he had borrowed had some sort of light but then I realized that the blue glow lit up the white water of the wave. Soon enough, there were more glowing waves. I pointed it out to some other people on the beach and they were as shocked and amazed as I was. No one had seen such a sight there before.

There were some concerns that the glowing lights were some sort of bio-hazard, but to me they looked very much like the bio-luminescent plankton that I saw in Farjado, Puerto Rico. I wonder if the plankton were what drew the humpback whale. SB doesn't buy my theory, pointing out that although this is the first time he has seen a whale or glowing plankton in the water, correlation is not causation.

Anyway, I hope the plankton stick around for a bit longer and more people can see the beautiful blue glow in the waves.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

back in the saddle

I am delighted to be working again. Every day feels dream-like, partly because I am still getting used to having to be alert in the mornings, and partly because I was in such a rut over my unemployment that I can still hardly believe my good fortune to be in a dream job. I find myself looking at my reflection in windows because I am not used to seeing a professionally dressed individual staring back at me. There are so many people who seem to admire themselves a lot, that I don't even look strange when I join in vainly checking myself out.

I don't even mind the blisters on my feet from wearing my low heels or dress flats. I'm not even going to attempt actual high heels for a while.

Yesterday I gave my first presentation to the director and project staff. I was a bit terrified because I know they are expecting a lot out of me. I also stand out as the only white person, and the only woman on my team. The presentation went well and I received the go ahead to proceed with my plan. Life is great.